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TMCNet:  Why media campaign was fronted by bright blue chick ; Q&A [Western Morning News (England)]

[June 29, 2014]

Why media campaign was fronted by bright blue chick ; Q&A [Western Morning News (England)]

(Western Morning News (England) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Nick Copson, 38, has been marketing director at DC Media for 12 months. His responsibilities include seven weekly titles and two dailies and their websites. He studied communication and design at UWCN and joined Northcliffe Newspapers in 2001, and was marketing director in Swansea before moving to Plymouth.


The Western Morning News has been publishing in the Westcountry for 160 years. Why start a Sunday edition now? I think Sunday is a day that provides a superb opportunity, not only for us a business in terms of revenue and circulation, but also in terms of our audience. I'm a newspaper person, and I know Sunday is the only day I can really invest proper time into reading a paper.

From our business's point of view there was a huge gap in the market regionally for a product. There was an opportunity for a newspaper that capitalises on the great content values and aspirations of the Western Morning News, but presents it in a format that is different because Sunday is a different day.

Is WMN on Sunday aimed at a different audience? We hope the existing Morning News audience will like the new Sunday but we also want to create a new audience. We hope people who may not have the time in the week to read a paper will buy us on a Sunday. We have targeted a slightly younger audience, the kind of people who are time-precious and have pressure from all angles. They have work, home, family, and other media noise all competing for their time.

For them Sunday is a leisure day and we hope the WMN on Sunday will be part of that.

It's no secret that the largest share of newspaper readership is in the 45 plus category. That is not to say young people are averse to newspapers, they just have so much more media competing for their attention.

We know this audience is accessing our content in digital format, but Sunday gives them an opportunity to embrace print.

What type of research did you carry out and what did it tell you? Before Christmas we were considering a cover price rise on theWestern Morning News and thinking about product development. We were considering various improvements, possibly even a redesign.

We went to our readership twice and also to our online audience with a survey which asked them what they thought. We delved into their newspaper buying habits, likes and dislikes and Sunday publishing. The level of response we had was unprecedented. The information gleaned gave us the confidence to pursue the possibility of a Sunday. In general they told us that they loved the paper, reinforcing our belief in the loyalty of the readership.

The responses to the Sunday question were almost entirely positive. Then we started doing the maths and researching whether Sunday was viable.

The new paper looks and feels very different. Is this deliberate? Yes very.

For a while we have been discussing where not only our newspaper, but the industry in general is heading, and what steps we could take to adapt to new audiences.

Newspaper audiences are delicate, in general people don't immediately embrace change. There have been many cases of brands around the world where change has caused an outcry. People don't always like change and we were not about to risk our business on a redesign that could affect our entire health.

The Sunday title has given us the opportunity to do something new without putting our Monday to Saturday edition, and the loyalty of its readers, at risk. In effect it has given us an opportunity for a very real and very live piece of reader research.

Sunday is different. Why shouldn't Sunday's paper be different too? We know from our customers, readers and staff that they often refer to the Western Morning News as the WMN. It's easy to say and has the necessary brevity, but is still the newspaper they know. That is what we have tried to do - maintain the essential ingredients of the Western Morning News but make it visually very different. At times the WMN can look old-fashioned and we felt if we were going to appeal to newer audiences we had to take an approach that would differentiate the new title.

The new masthead is visually stimulating. It has the stability that is necessary, and we can leverage the name and trust of the Western Morning News, but we are still launching something that is new.

Talk us through your campaign slogan 'the same but different'. The campaign message should always be the first ingredient of any marketing campaign - not something you add in at the end. It should be the glue that holds it all together. 'The same but different' came about purely through conversations about the product.

The Sunday looks like a newspaper, but it's different from what you'd normally expect. That was the message we wanted to convey - that as a brand and a business we are doing things differently.

What was the inspiration for the blue chick? The chick idea came from the same place - 'the same but different'.

Once you are sure of what you are trying to say, and what you are trying to achieve, then ideas come.

Once we established 'the same but different', then we could have some fun creatively. The question we posed our creative teams was 'how could we convey something familiar with a unique twist in a fun and visually arresting way'.

Various ideas were concocted but at the heart of this was an idea that we must retain the values of the Western Morning News and the region.

We chose the chickens because they symbolise new beginnings, particularly in a rural region.

We also wanted to convey that the seventh edition was a very different version of something people are already buying six days a week.

This was not just print ads and posters was it? This has been without doubt the largest multi-media campaign our company has done for many years, if not ever.

The task at hand should not be underestimated. We were launching a brand new paper, with a brand new name, and a new look and feel. It was going to feel unfamiliar to people and our Sunday sales window is so much smaller, we only have eight hours to sell it. We needed the campaign to cover as many bases as possible. We did television, radio, radio programme sponsorship, outdoor billboards and large format posters at train stations.

We have also promoted heavily through social media using our own channels which are huge and grow every day. We've utilised our print and online platforms all over the Westcountry. We have done paid- for social media, and sponsorship campaigns at events like the Devon County Show, the Royal Cornwall Show and Bicton Horse trials. The cutting of the WMN on Sunday cake at the two county shows was a symbolic and special moment.

The aim of all of this was to ensure that within our target audience there was no one in the Westcountry that was unaware we were launching a new newspaper. We had to create that awareness, and to ensure that people know what they were looking for.

Tough ask? Yes, any new product going to market is tough. A Sunday paper has an definite shelf-life in which to achieve its goals. WMN on Sunday has sales targets but it still needs time in which to instil itself in the public consciousness. It's a one day only sales opportunity. We can't rely on people deciding to buy it the following day or three weeks later.

This seems a sophisticated campaign for the "grand old lady" of regional newspapers. The underlying statement of the same but different runs through every aspect of this product. We had to instil the message that we were doing things differently.

This runs through the campaign itself, the type of media we have used, the look and feel of the newspaper, and the timing and the language we have used.

Every touch-point with the consumer tells them we are doing this in a way we've not done it before.

Our ultimate goal is to change perceptions - certainly of what the Western Morning News is - and hopefully of what newspapers are.

In the media industry people have described this move as brave and bold. How does it feel to be at the centre of it? Everyone in our industry is aware that the newspaper format does not occupy the dominant market position it did in the 1980s.

It's a very different world now. This is down to changing reading habits, changing news consumption and the fact that everyone is busier than ever. The idea of launching a new newspaper might seem bizarre but we feel that if there's one day that deserves a paper it's Sunday. Why shouldn't the Westcountry have its own? Local World's West Since taking control of the old Northcliffe Media operation in January 2013, Local World has been at the forefront of innovation and investment in regional newspapers. Headed by former News of The World editor David Montgomery, who branded the takeover as the fight-back of the regional press, Local World immediately launched a relentless drive to grow online audiences. Local Word websites now attract in excess of 1 million unique visitors every day.

As well as the Western Morning News its newspaper stable includes regional giants such as the Bristol Post, The Hull Daily Mail, the Nottingham Post, the Derby Telegraph, and the Leicester Mercury.

Its Westcountry arm is controlled by DC Media a company formed by the merger of South WEst Media Group and Cornwall and Devon Media. Other titles include the Plymouth Herald, the West Briton, the Cornish Guardian, the Herald Express, and the Exeter Express and Echo.

As a brand and a business we are doing things differentlyNICK COPSON Our ultimate goal with this new Sunday paper is to change perceptions (c) 2014 ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved.

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